LONDON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The United Kingdom contracted gas purchases from the Russian-backed Nord Stream pipeline to meet more than 4 percent of its demand by 2012, officials said.
Russia aims to diversify its energy transport options through the Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline to southern Europe.
Europe, for its part, had aimed to break a Russian grip on the regional gas market with the Nabucco gas pipeline and its possible Central Asian and Middle Eastern suppliers.
Matthias Warning, the chief executive of the Nord Stream consortium, said that as North Sea reserves run dry, the region will need to look to imports to satisfy its demands, the Times of London reports.
"The United Kingdom is switching from a gas exporter to an importer," he said.
Warning said Nord Stream will bring more than 140 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year to British customers by as early as 2012.
The $11.1 billion Nord Stream pipeline has an estimated capacity of about 1.9 trillion cubic feet per year. Construction on the dual pipeline to Germany through the Baltic Sea is slated for April.